The COVID-19 pandemic worsened nutrition problems among Filipinos, according to a government survey that measured the country’s food security and nutrition status.
The 2021 Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS) by the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute has found that obesity rates among children aged 0 to 5 and 5 to 10 at 3.9 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
The same trend was seen among older people, with one in every 10 adolescents and four out of 10 adults either overweight or obese.
The survey further said 10 percent of adults aged 20 to 59 were obese, while among the elderly aged 60 and above, 6.2 percent are obese and 11.8 percent have chronic energy deficiency.
The World Health Organization defines obesity or being overweight as the extreme or unusual fat accumulation in the body. This condition is described using body mass index, defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters.
Obesity is caused by the imbalance of energy in the body between the calories consumed and the calories burned up, or too much eating and drinking without enough physical activity.
According to Charina Javier, DOST-FNRI senior science research specialist, the rise in obesity is in part due to the sedentary lifestyles during the pandemic, as lockdowns barred people from going out.
The ENNS, which surveyed 141,189 Filipinos between July 2021 and June 2022 in 37 provinces and cities in the country, is an effort to quantify Filipinos’ health and food security conditions at the height of the pandemic and is intended to be used as a guide to craft policies and programs toward a full recovery from the pandemic.
Many of us have seen and felt the effects of the sedentary lockdown lifestyle, and some have probably been in denial as far as becoming obese is concerned. We cannot get used to the sedentary and unhealthy way of living, and must take the warnings on obesity in mind as we work on taking back our pandemic-suspended lifestyles and proceed to the next normal, with a renewed focus on our well-being and physical and mental health.*